The Arcade Fire

Album Title: Funeral
Release Date: September 21, 2004
Genre: Indie Rock
So much advanced praise had been heaped on the long-awaited debut from Montreal's Arcade Fire that I was totally expecting a huge letdown when I actually heard the album. No album, no band, nobody could answer to that level of advance billingůnot in the year 2004 at least. So I purchased the CD, popped it in the ole hi-fi and÷ and I kid you not÷ I was absolutely floored by what I heard. A mere two minutes into the dramatic slowburn of lead-off track "Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)" and I was an instant convert. Funeral is an album of stunning detail and showmanship. It's ripe with tension and death and drama, but it deals with these matters in a manner that's innovative, fresh and above all else, brimming with the urgency of your life at knifepoint. It's music that demands to be heard and when vocalist Win Butler speaks of kids swinging from power lines and Jesus Christ during "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)", he does so as if his life's hanging in the balance. By the time "Wake Up" ignites seven tracks in, Butler is ready to exploit the track as a hyper-sensitive rallying cry against the dying of the light. It builds and builds and builds until four minutes in, it pulls an impulsive about-face and breaks into a oddly Motown-esque sing-song. Save your obligatory comparisons and don't even try to contextualize the music of the Arcade Fire because there is no basis for comparison. Time will tell whether Funeral will be a template for modern music going forward but if nothing else, the Arcade Fire have picked over the corpse of indie rock and triggered a relapse ten times over. Four bloody stars!

Writer: Cameron Gordon

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